Daily Archives: June 22, 2009

Stars in their eyes

It’s the program that thought hiring Patrick Nix to run its offense was a good idea, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to read this, but still, how strange.

Recruiting had become simple for the University of Miami football staff.

While counterparts were out scouring the country for the next All-American, the Hurricanes coaches were likely parked in front of a computer with a pad and pen. They surfed Internet recruiting sites in search of talent, almost forgetting their own evaluation in the process.

After following the advice of recruiting gurus helped lead to the program’s recent decline, the Hurricanes have returned to trusting themselves when it comes to finding talent. Third-year coach Randy Shannon continues to emphasize the idea of recruiting based on staff judgment instead of a website’s rankings.

“That’s accurate,” UM recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt said. “We spent way too much time recruiting off [Internet] lists and finding these top guys instead of truly evaluating. You can’t just go off hearsay or just because Florida, Florida State or Alabama is recruiting him. That doesn’t mean a thing.”

The blame starts with the poster boy for running a successful program into mediocrity.

… Recruiting misfires factored into the Hurricanes going from playing for consecutive national titles in 2002-03 to a 19-19 record the past three seasons. Much of it occurred under coach Larry Coker, who was fired after the 2006 season. The Hurricanes landed several highly rated recruiting classes during his tenure, but even outsiders noticed they were focusing solely on recruiting sites.

“I used to go in the coaches’ offices and sometimes they would literally have Rivals.com up on their screen,” said Matt Shodell, who covers UM and its recruiting for CaneSport.com. “I won’t name the coaches, but they would be writing names down on pieces of paper. I don’t know how much film they were looking at.”

So Coker gets handed a program that’s smack dab in the middle of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the Southeast – maybe even the country – and also has the name recognition, the “branding”, if you will, that Lane Kiffin would sacrifice his left testicle for right now.  In other words, he could have driven around the area looking at prospects and still been home in time for dinner without breaking a sweat.  And spiced that up with the occasional high profile national recruit who wanted to come play for ‘Da U.

Instead he decided the best course of action would be for his staff to play computer geek in mom’s basement and surf the web for recruiting sites.  In other words, he tossed away the biggest advantage he had over every other school in the country.  Weird, to say the least.

Of course, the other strange part to the story is that this practice was evidently common knowledge, and yet the school, when it let Coker go, chose to hire by promoting from within a guy who presumably was a part of that failed process.  That it’s taken Shannon and his staff some time to realize the magnitude of the error isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of his ability to run a football program.

I shouldn’t have to remind you why that matters, but I always welcome the excuse to post this again.

Miami: From a Bulldog perspective, if you looked at the state of Florida as though it were Afghanistan (and I do), the Gators, obviously, are the Taliban, while Miami is whatever warlord is running things in the Northeast. The Hurricanes don’t occupy anything remotely resembling moral high ground, but they are useful. As with Alabama, a healthy Miami helps Georgia; in Da U’s case, it’s because the ‘Canes recruit against the Gators in the Sunshine State’s hottest hotbeads for high school talent, although they don’t play the Gators that often.


Filed under Recruiting

Bias in the Coaches Poll? I’m shocked, shocked.

Ed Gunther is my hero.  Fresh off of counting all of the first place ballots cast in the AP and Coaches Poll during the BCS era, he’s now turned his attention to a huge issue and turned in a monster of a report.

Here’s what he’s chosen to dig his teeth into.

We’re going to be asking (and answering) two main questions here: first,
are there any constants in how far teams drop in the polls after a loss?
And second,
have the polls shown any biases for or against teams or conferences?

Like I said, that’s quite the task.  And he does a great job with it.  Take some time to read through it (and it will take some time, that’s for sure).  I just want to note this conclusion he reaches:

… Sure, most non-BCS teams have a legitimate complaint that the polls never give them enough respect in the preseason rankings. But does that bias carry over once teams start losing? In the AP, that’s a resounding no – 11 of the 19 non-BCS teams actually have a zero or positive average in the AP (meaning they dropped less spots than the average). That’s a much better percentage of teams than the BCS conferences where only 29 of 63 teams have a positive average. Air Force and Colorado State are in the Top 5 of teams who get a break, dropping over 2 spots less than the average for comparable teams when they lose. So if anything, the AP voters make up for their preseaon (sic) apprehension of non-BCS teams by dropping them less than BCS teams when they inevitably lose.

But the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3’s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams. Remind me again why keeping their ballots secret is a good thing?

It seems to me that instead of lobbying Congress and pitching new playoff proposals, the Mountain West and the other non-BCS conferences ought to be raising holy hell about this.


Filed under Stats Geek!

Has he got a deal for you.

Look, I get that with all the criticism, mockery and skepticism thrown in Lane Kiffin’s direction, the natural reaction from the UT faithful is going to be to defend the man and to portray everything that’s gone on in Knoxville since his hire in the best possible light.  That’s what being a fan of the program is all about.

And I think that the fellas that post at Rocky Top Talk are pretty grounded in what they’re pitching, for the most part.  But this kind of talk really needs to stop.

This was a huge priority for Lane. He didn’t decide to take a relatively modest salary and pay his assistants above market value simply out of the generosity of his heart.  Lane Kiffin wanted specific coaches and felt that paying them enough to get them was more valuable to his coaching career than keeping more money for himself.  In the future, we’ll judge these hires by on-field performance.  Right now, we judge them based on the concept and the execution of the concept.  <i>Concept</i> (sic):  Pay the money to get the best coaches I can get.  <i>Execution</i> (sic): The reputations of this staff from previous stops are very high.  Kiffin paid a lot for them, but it’s hard to imagine a more reputable staff.

This is a comforting conceit, but does anybody realistically believe that that’s how things went down?  That Junior sat in Mike Hamilton’s office and told the man that he was offering Kiffin too much money?  Don’t be ridiculous.

Kiffin and Chizik – don’t forget, we’ve heard the same talk about this “new model” from the Auburn faithful, too – didn’t take less money as a result of some conscious, deliberate course of action on their part.  They were offered the money they were offered because that’s what was justified by their respective resumes.  In both cases, those resumes were considerably thinner than those of the men they were replacing.

Thus, the lower salaries weren’t insisted upon by these head coaches in order to free up resources to hire the best possible assistants.  That’s a laugh, really, considering the revenues both football programs generate and how much more will be flowing in with the new TV contracts.  Instead, this is nothing more than after the fact rationalization for the unprecedented amount of spending both schools have lavished on their assistant coaches.

The only part of this model that’s new is that the spending race we’ve already seen applied to head coaches has now made its way to the assistant ranks.  Given the money available and the pressure to win in the SEC, that’s far more a product of inevitability than Mike Hamilton having a Thomas Edison moment.  (And don’t you bet that Fulmer and Tuberville wish that the light bulb for this had gone off while they were still running the show?)

Tell you what – if Junior or Chizik gets off to a roaring start and turns down the large raise that we all know will follow from that so that his assistants can be properly rewarded in the wake of success, I’ll issue a big time mea culpa about this post.  But I wouldn’t hold my breath that it’ll be necessary to apologize.


Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit, It's Just Bidness

I say, “Bill Bates”, you say…

It is one of life’s great pleasures to know that no matter what else he has already accomplished and whatever else he may do in life, Bill Bates’ name will be forever linked with one glorious moment in Knoxville in 1980.

… That’s right, Bulldogs fans. You know it, too. It’s Herschel Walker coming at Bates, then through him, plowing his way to the end zone for a University of Georgia touchdown.

The occasion was the Sept. 6, 1980 season opener that became the coming-out party for Georgia freshman running back Walker, a future Heisman Trophy winner (1982), All-American and College Football Hall of Famer.

Bates, then a sophomore who would become a two-time All-Southeastern Conference safety at Tennessee, braced to make an open-field tackle of big No. 34 but was planted on the back of his No. 40 orange jersey.

The play took only a few seconds but has been replayed countless times, thanks in recent years with the aid of Web sites such as YouTube. An Internet search Friday for “Bill Bates” and “Herschel Walker” found 163,000 files.

That might equal the number of times Bates has been asked about a play that happened almost 29 years ago.

“Let’s talk about that game,” Bates volunteers. “Sure, Herschel did well, ran me over, whatever, scored a touchdown…”


Dude, take your immortality where you can get it.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football